A film, directed by Ryan Carroll
The Lord Protector -The Riddle of the Chosen is listed as being from from 2005 (more on that later), but feels every bit at home with the overwhelming glut of fantasy-based films that came out in the mid-late 1980’s after films like Conan: The Barbarian blew away the box office. The film is somewhat acted and staged like a weird middle ground between a syndicated action show from the 90’s (Xena, Hercules etc.) and a pornographic parody of some other film, just minus the sex scenes.
The film also throws the viewer into a lengthy flashback scene that immediately made me think that I was, in fact, watching a sequel to another movie that I had not seen. I looked it up and this movie is a actually re-edited version of a film from 1996 apparently, causing even more confusion on my part. The flashback is strange and reminds me of the baffling opening scene of The Cave Dwellers, one of my favorite episodes of MST3K.
“The Lord Protector stars Patrick Cassidy as the dauntless hero charged with saving his world from imminent destruction. The voice of Charlton Heston sets the stage as our hero begins his quest to unravel The Riddle of the Chosen. His journey takes him on adventures throughout the kingdom forming alliances and surmounting enemies. He teams with Malthon and Lady Diamond as they travel ever closer to the core of evil.”
Considering how much this show plays out like either a campaign in Dungeons & Dragons, or people acting silly at the Renaissance Festival, I’d imagine anyone into either of those pastimes would actually like this movie. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, has some adequate fight scenes, and has some sort of nostalgic charm that makes me think of TV in the past. I’m not familiar with any of the cast members, but I see most of them had film careers of some nature, so it looks like everything was professionally done. Perhaps the most silly “casting” is Charleton Heston getting almost top billing, only to be the unseen narrator of the movie. That’s what I would call a classic low-budget “bait and switch”.
For all of it’s faults, this film was actually produced really well, it was recorded on film, and appears to have a decent budget. I’ve obviously seen worse looking films on SyFy in recent memory. If I were to discover that this was actually supposed to be the pilot for a syndicated series I wouldn’t be surprised, because it feels a lot like one. The only real time the movie absolutely stumbles is in the special effects department. As you can imagine, as something from either 1996 or 2005, as the CGI magic effects look absolutely terrible. You can tell they tried really hard, but the budget wasn’t exactly there. Location shooting, however, was impeccable. I’m not sure if they used an old film set or scouted old buildings somewhere, but they preserve the fantasy setting way more than your typical low budget film.
Seeing that I have actually gone to live music sets for a genre called “Dungeon Synth“, I actually thought the music in this was pretty cool. It’s cheesy, epic sounding synthesizer music that immediately dates this to the past and would not be unheard of in many 80’s movies. It adds to the charm, and no matter how silly it is, it made the film seem more impressive than it actually was.
The Lord Protector -The Riddle of the Chosen is one of those bad movies that is somehow so charming that you can’t help but smile watching it. The acting is not great, special effects are tough, it comes across like a D&D game, and has all sorts of problems. That said, it’s not a “so bad it’s good” movie, because I actually liked it unironically. I am by no means recommending it, but if you like those old UPN action shows I keep comparing this to, I’m sure you’d like it as well. In a world where all Fantasy-based film and TV is trying to be the same as Game of Thrones, sometimes you need a cheesy flick full of one liners and goody synth music!
This film can be streamed or purchased HERE.